Precedence: bulk
Subject: Chalkhills Digest #5-38

          Chalkhills Digest, Volume 5, Number 38

                Saturday, 12 December 1998

Today's Topics:

                      Stale, mate...
                    Re: Fair Taxation
                Transistor Blast & Prince
           Re: Pork Yogurt, Meat at the Bottom
                         Hay Jude
               Scuse me while I void myself
And did the Countenance Divine shine forth upon our Hollywood
                        ONLY ONES
                    In defense of Pat
           Re: The Little Artist on the Prairie
                          Bs BS
                       ENCORE LUI !
                        Mr Amazing
                Transitor Blast revisited
                 Transistor Blast Booklet
                 ...but Boston loves TB!
                   Coffee-Table Classic


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Theres no more shadows in this world.


Message-ID: <002101be24eb$79c32820$ded93ac3@mad19>
From: "Chris Clarke" <>
Subject: Stale, mate...
Date: Fri, 11 Dec 1998 09:48:14 -0000


Steve Jackson wrote:
>Evidently you have not heard much by them then. James Dean Bradfield and Co
>do many things, but whining is not one of them. You're either too fucking
>old (and I'm 30) or you have simply ignored one of Britain's most exciting
>and culturally significant bands.

Well for two albums (Gold Against the Soul and the towering Holy Bible) I'd
agree with the above. Unfortunately, the last two LP's see them less and
less culturally significant and more and more culturally stagnant. They seem
happy enough with it, though ...

Molly wrote:
> I'll tell you the problem is that a lot of people don't know a good album
>when you hear it.  I love Skylarking.  I think it's a great album, because of
>the melodic songs.

Totally agree. Also, I find it strange that O & L receives an unjust kicking
for being 'overproduced' and yet one of the most finely produced records
ever seems to generate little more than indifference.

On the English Settlement/Mummer theme, while I found ES to be different
from previous XTC, I also found most of the album (apart from Senses and
Leisure) to be turgid and sluggish, with little direction to a lot of the
songs. Mummer came as a blast of fresh air after that, with brighter, more
complete songs and is still one of my favourite XTC albums. But I could be
wrong... ;-)

* -------------------------------------
chris 2
'if you stand up like a nail then you will be knocked downn'


Message-Id: <>
Date: Fri, 11 Dec 1998 09:53:26 +0000
From: Dominic Lawson <>
Subject: Re: Fair Taxation

>>Well, for one thing, people who earn millions spend more. You think they
spend their time sitting on a mountain of money? Of course not. They use it to
buy things. If there were no income tax at all, more of their money would be
spent in the private sector on consumer goods.....etc

I know what you're saying, but I don't agree. It all sounds a bit like the
usual right-wing cop-out, although I'm not suggesting that you're right-wing
(or even a cop, out or otherwise). Personally I firmly believe that NO ONE
needs to earn the sort of money that "fat cats" and the likes of Mr Collins
earn. The "they earned it" argument is, of course, bollocks - making records
and travelling extensively is hardly comparable to being a nurse, for
instance. Re-distributing that wealth is the only open and manageable way to
ensure that those in society who need help, actually get it. Public
services, in this country, rely on income tax and other contributions from
working people. If you think that having NO income tax is going to redress
the balance between rich and poor, you are somewhat naive about how
capitalism works. I say impose a maximum wage. Rich people returning from
tax exile and buying more consumer goods is not the answer to anything, and
can you imagine what sort of vile, extremist ideology would lurk behind any
government committed to such a scheme? Wealthy scumbags, one and all, up
against the ****ing wall, as we used to say at primary school. Yeah, I know,
I'm full of it.

Anyway, enough of this tomfoolery. Sorry everyone! Too many years listening
to Gang Of Four records has gone to my head....



From: Matt_Kaden/CAM/
Message-ID: <>
Date: Fri, 11 Dec 1998 08:37:18 -0500
Subject: Blasted

OK, anyone want to diss early XTC after hearing disc 3 of Transistor Blast?
Come on, there's been plenty of bullshit on here already. Let's have
it. That show was galvanized ART, an emotional rollercoaster, an avalanche
of kaleidoscopic meteorites. That's the best live XTC show I've ever
heard. They proved themselves a transcendental band. I am prepared to hear
it again. Sorry I should admit that I only yesterday bought my copy. Well I
had ordered one from Allstars in The Netherlands when I thought it wasn't
going to come out here in the Amexicanlands and I still haven't received it
so I broke down and walked into Tower Records and said "Give me that". A bit
early to review the thing but I can say "Very satisfying" all the way
round. I'll give the other copy to someone for the holydaze. (Another
version of Snowman - can you beLIEVE it? I almost don't know what to do with
the fact...)

Walter Van Scheinding


Message-Id: <>
Subject: Transistor Blast & Prince
Date: Fri, 11 Dec 98 09:48:29 -0000
From: Max Germer <>

I just recieved Transistor Blast in the mail and love it! I do have some
minor complaints with the packaging, however. My main objection is with
the booklet which I felt was rather lame. It could have been *much* more
informative and had at least a few pictures of the band live. I keep
wishing that Rhino or Rykodisc had been company to take on the project.
But I'm still a happy boy today.

Leon wrote:

>I stand corrected about Prince. It seems he HAS written at least ONE good
>Trouble is, I ain't never not heard of them there songs, not nor I ain't.

As an avid Artist fan, I highly recommend listening to some of his
late-'80s work. It's easy to dismiss him for all his weird excesses but
the man is a true visionary, easily in the same league as Zappa and
Bowie. But I do admit that, like both of those artists, it takes some
work to get to the meat of his genius.

max maggie


Message-Id: <l03010d00b296c8b2ae5a@[]>
Date: Fri, 11 Dec 1998 08:41:56 -0500
From: Duncan Watt <>
Subject: Re: Pork Yogurt, Meat at the Bottom

okay, re: Susan Raven's rockin' rant re: "True Colors".... this person I
like (is that sexual harrassment? Didn't mean it THAT way. I'm not even
*wearing* a hat). And happenin' use of CAPITALS... add a few ellipseseses

Raven also asked politely:

I have to agree that their
>'issue' songs often fall a little flat, but I always considered 'President
>Kill' an exception to the rule.  I love the way that that imperious synth
>blast contrasts with the motley, ragged horn section; it underlines the
>sense of mockery implicit in the lyrics and hints that President Kill may
>well be suffering from delusions of grandeur.  I can't believe so many of
>you seem not to like it; is it because you're all YANKS?

I'd like to rise to that pathetic slap with this provocative idea: The
reason Yanks like Prince so much is because his music MAKES YOU WANT TO
PORK. I think this concept explains a lot of the habits of the ever-lovin'
'Merken society. "This music makes me want to pork! I'll buy it!". I really
like Prince, so you can do the math...

Or dancing. 'Merkens love dancing, too, esp. when it requires purchasing
very expensive clothing beforehand. Brits, too, if Q is any indicator...

But I like XTC, too, just not for...okay, you get the idea. Yes, I AM
suggesting that Dick Clark was right, at least in terms of how to have a
hit in America (for all of you SR-American-baiting types, Dick Clark was
the host of "American Bandstand", popular TV show famous for the line "it's
got a good beat and I can dance to it... I'll give it a 9, Dick"). Check
the XTC hits: "Senses", "Nigel", etc. All great dance songs. Of course,
there's "Dear God", but that's just AP at his provoca-best. Lots of young
disillusioned Christians in The Home Of The Free...

Look, of course I'm not dissing XTC in the bitsy-least. I'm simply
suggesting AP would look pretty silly humping a fire pole with his ass
hanging out of a yellow leotard like The Artist Formerly Making Money.

Your Pal Duncan

ps: I listened to "President Kill" again, and any good 'Merken over 30
would realize that the coolest part of the song IS the horn section...
didn't you Brits have 'The Dating Game' way back when? Mark Isham IS Austin


Message-ID: <001601be2535$0e2a4c20$0005d0ab@tedist>
From: "Rick Buist" <>
Subject: Hay Jude
Date: Fri, 11 Dec 1998 10:35:35 -0800

Jude says:

>Like the others in the group have said on occasion, [Terry] >was a human
metronome, in and of itself an incredible thing.

>...but also Ball and Chain shows how rhythmic and steady he >was.

I was listening to English Settlement the other day with a new set of ear
pieces(brag brag), and it occurred to me just how brilliant the rhythmic
aspect of this album is.  However, I disagree that Ball and Chain is STEADY.
The tempo changes all over this song.  That's not to say I don't like the
song; I do like the song, especially for the in-your-face triplet fill on
the snare after the guitar solo.

I don't have anything else to add, I'm just picking on the people who do.
(Apologies to Jude)



Message-ID: <>
From: "Amanda Owens" <>
Subject: Scuse me while I void myself
Date: Fri, 11 Dec 1998 09:40:54 PST

Dom-Yeah, what you said. :) I'll be the first to admit, somne of Phil's
songs are a bit vacuous and vapid, but some are cool all the same. Now
let's get off this freaking subject!

Will-Actually, Omnibus was written for Dave Gregory. It's Andy's way of
And as far as my XTC song of the day-it was a J-O-K-E. Anyone who knows
me knows I have an incredibly biting, sarcastic, caustic, grating-and
beacoup other words-sense of humour.

I had the great pleasure of talking to the one, the only MITCH FRIEDMAN
on the phone for a good two hours the other day. While he had no XTC
news to report, we did talk about some older stuff (mostly about Gregsy,
of course.) He even played me some answering machine messages Dave had
left for him. (I'm sick, aren't I?)

Tis all for now,
Amanda C. Owens
"People will always be tempted to wipe their feet on anything with
welcome written on it."-Andy Partridge
XTC song of the day-Extrovert
non XTC song-C'est La Vie-Hubert Kah (My question has been answered! Now
if only I could find the damn album somewhere.)


Message-Id: <>
Date: Fri, 11 Dec 1998 10:24:45 -0800
Subject: And did the Countenance Divine shine forth upon our Hollywood

(Many apologies to Blake.....)

Denizens of the Diatomaceous,

Sorry to reopen an old sore......
Upon repeated listenings to Oranges and Lemons, it becomes very apparent
just how much of Tinseltown seeped into the music.  I never suspected it
back in '89, but now there's no denying the influence. For better or verse,
despite its "Englishness", O&L is full of L.A. bright, breezy sunshine and
glitter.  I, for one, don't think that it is necessarily bad, as I do notice
that this album almost fits L.A.  to a tee (unlike O.J.'s glove).  And you
must admit that it is great "top-down-crank-it- up-on-the-freeway" music
(esp. "Merely a Man").  Production arguments aside, I feel that this album
is still a damn fine dose of XTC, and ranks among their better works.

(Yes, that's me on the 110 freeway through downtown L.A., XTC blaring like
napalm through the speakers and grille of my radio)

So There! as a first time poster coming out from being a long time lurker, I
just had to break my self-imposed exile to get that off my chest!

In other news, Todd Jones rated:

> XTC drummers and their fit to the Swindonians, in order:
> 1) Prarie Prince
> 2) Dave Mattacks
> 3) Terry Chambers
> 4) Big Express Dude (Don't make me hunt it down)
> 5) Ian Gregeory
> 6) Peter Phipps
> 7) Pat, poor Pat

If I'm not mistaken, numbers 4) and 6) are one and the same??......

And also:

> Yes, Pat Mastelotto was an inappropriate choice for XTC, but holy mother of
> moose- Prarie is the absolute deity of drums on Skylarking!

Well, I try to refrain from using dogmatic superlatives, and I refuse to
jump into the fray of "he's better/no, he's better!" but I will say that
Prarie's drumming definitely is worthy of the XTC experience.  Any musician
whose playing can run shivers up and down my spine is an excellent one in my
book, and those glorious fills on TMWSAHS continue to do just that with
every listening.  But, on the other hand, so does Terry's playing on D&W and
Black Sea....

And in the spirit of "coffee through the nose", Melissa wrote:

> "After Nonsuch failed to light up the charts, XTC faded into obscrity."
> And I thought they were still in Swindon.

Talk about a classic spit-take!!!
I'll have to stop reading this digest at work, as now I'll probably need a
new monitor!!!
(not to mention that it distracts me from my duties!).

Oh well, that's enough for my first post.....

    Logging in from beautiful Glendale, CA  USA
    "The birthplace of Don Van Vliet"


Message-Id: <>
From: "Jeff Smelser" <>
Date: Fri, 11 Dec 1998 12:02:50 -0700
Subject: ONLY ONES

Hi Chalkers-

A wise Chalkhillian once spake:

> I was a huge fan of the ONLY ONES - still rate them as one of the
> greatest ever English bands. I bought a Quadraverb off Alan Mair, their
> bass player, in about 1990. He told me all about their appalling
> heroin-soaked demise just as they were on the cusp of big success. A
> lesson to us all, boys and girls...

SAME HERE!  I loved their stuff.  I'd also love to hear these stories.
What I loved about the Only Ones was how my opinion changed
about them.  At first I thought, "That guy sings like he just doesn't
care."  Later, that was the thing I loved about them the most.  I'm
so sorry I never got to see them live.



Message-Id: <v01510101b297226cb6b1@[]>
Date: Fri, 11 Dec 1998 14:30:02 -0500
From: (Chris Van Valen)
Subject: In defense of Pat

Hi Hillians

I suggest that all of you don't dismiss Pat Mastellato until you get the
Gold CD of Oranges and Lemons. A breathtaking improvement over the original


If you have an unpleasant nature and dislike people
this is no obstacle to work. -- J.G. Bennett

And it's potato, potato, potato. -- Mike Keneally


Message-ID: <>
Date: Fri, 11 Dec 1998 16:12:00 EST
Subject: Re: The Little Artist on the Prairie

On the subject of drummers:

Upon listening to Prairie Prince's drumming on other non-synthetic parts of
Skylarking besides TMWSAHS, I find that he's as much about taste as any
other XTC drummer was, including the recently-maligned (name-spelling-wise
as well as drumming) Pat Mastelotto and Dave Mattacks.  Peter Phipps sounds
great on Blue Overall, also.  Prairie Prince fans might want to check out a
record called The Mistakes.  It's on Immune Records, and its produced by
Mike Keneally, guitarist/keyboardist formerly of Zappa and presently of his
own band Beer For Dolphins.  He plays on it as well, as does guitarist Henry
Kaiser and bassist Andy West.  It's great, very improvisational, playing
wise and production wise.

As far as Prince goes, the Artist, that is, I happen to be a fan of his
'classic' stuff as well as his recent stuff.  I know many people do not like
his recent stuff, but I happen to like Emancipation, pretty much all of it.
We can't listen to it with the same ears as Reign of Blows or 1,000
Umbrellas, but if you allow yourself to get inside the layers and
production, pretty much every Prince record is a masterpiece.  I'm not
intimately familiar with all of them, but he's a master orchestrator, no
matter how you look at it.  I even find that one has to change their
listening ears when jumping from old Prince to newer stuff like
Emancipation.  It's not about the same thing, and in some surface aspects
its more 'generic,' but only if you look for the same things.  I guess it
boils down to what you 'look' for when you 'listen,' what interests you.

On Phil Collins, he made two GREAT post-Gabriel albums with Genesis, 'Trick
of the Tail' and 'Wind and Wuthering.'  The quality decreases with each
subsequent album thereafter, but those two are gems, IMHO.



Message-ID: <>
From: "Bob Crain" <>
Subject: Bs BS
Date: Fri, 11 Dec 1998 13:43:54 PST

>From: Steve Pitts <>
>Todd wrote, with reference to Mummer:
>> the B-sides in the middle of the CD still break its flow, IMO <
>Why anyone would do it that way escapes me. I much prefer the way that
>Demon did things with the Elvis Costello re-releases, put all the extra
>stuff at the end, and separate it from the original studio material using a
>longer gap.

         The only reason I can think of is that this simulates
         what happens when you tape CDs or LPs.  You might throws
         some B-sides at the end of each side to pad it out, keeping
         the Side One songs on the first side of the tape and the
         Side Two songs on the second side of the tape.  I've got a
         bunch of tapes made for me by my dear old friend who was
         responsible for getting me into XTC in the first place, and
         I have to admit I am very accustomed to hearing Punch and
         Judy followed by Tissue Tigers after All of A Sudden on the
         English Settlement tape. I kind of miss that sequence when I
         listen to the CD of ES, since I had the tape long before I
         got the actual album.

         Super Bon Bon, Super Bon Bon,

         Bob Crain
         Posting From an Internet Cafe in San Diego


Message-Id: <>
Date: Fri, 11 Dec 98 22:37:33 +0100
From: (SOLANS, Frederic)
Subject: ENCORE LUI !

     Salut a tous

     Yes, I insist.
     Not a word about my 2 request,The Mabuses and Yuval Gabbay.
     No interest ? unknown (can't believe it !!) ? snobism ? my tense
     mistakes ? If you know Soul Coughing only on CD and think it's just
     machine-music, go see them on stage : all is true and made with real
     instruments. And Yuval Gabbay is definitly an incredible drummer (not
     a player here to agree or not ??)
     Many talks here about old musician/band. Nobody listen present bands ?
     Is it possible to be an old XTC's fan and take pleasure to listen
     Propellerheads or Chemical Brothers ? I say yes.
     (don't remember who looks for last Babybird album but you're righ :
     it's dark but splendid).

     Fredo Fat Bassman

     PS : petit message personnel pour Mario BEAULAC : merci de tes
     commentaires fort interessants, mais je n'arrive pas a t'atteindre en
     retour ("undelivered message"). Desole. As-tu une autre adresse ?


Message-Id: <>
From: "Mark Strijbos" <>
Date: Sat, 12 Dec 1998 00:12:34 +0000
Subject: Mr Amazing

Dear Chalkers,

Is it my ears or does anybody else feel that the remastered tracks
on the Transistor Blast box set lack a bit of sparkle and umph when
you compare them to the original releases??
 (BBC Live, Drums & Wireless)

I'm glad that there are some more Chalkers who remember and love

> Drummers: Look, Terry was THE MAN.
He still is!

> I would posit that the reason there's been no constant on the kit
> (ok, Prairie's done two now) is that the Mssrs. X are still
> looking for 'that sound'. Or, they're not a lot of fun to work
> with. Nah.
I seem to remember that when Terry left the remaining members
declared they would not replace him with somebody else simply because
he was irreplaceable. It just never would be the same again so why
try? And they were right of course...

Terry's unique style and big sound was a crucial element in the
really XTC mix, one of the things that made them different from all
those other groups.

Bob O'Bannon said:

> So although I would not necessarily say that XTC's post-Chambers
> drummers have been merely "background," I don't hear them taking
> XTC's songs to the next level. Terry did that.
Hear hear!

Listen to the intro to Life Begins At The Hop from the
1980 Hammersmith show (BBC Live or T.Blast ); in particular to how
he hits that snare drum. The power and drive are just ...amazing :)
They don't hit them like that anymore...

Finally Jim Slade also came to his defence:

> XTC with Terry Chambers made analog, vinyl records
> that jumped off the turntable and occupied their own special
> space.
Exactly! And they never really rocked again since he left.

PS: recently received a tape of Colin's demos for the new album and
they are f****** brilliant ! My fave so far is Frivolous Tonight, a
terrific song with great singalong potential, a very strong melody
and just a hint of Ray Davies. We are really in for a treat !!!

yours in xtc,

Mark Strijbos at The Little Lighthouse


Message-ID: <>
Date: Sat, 12 Dec 1998 06:41:32 +1100 (EST)
From: Veronica Kyle Robertson <>
Subject: Falkner/Ruben/Wondermints/library

>Any word on the new Jason Faulkner disc that's >supposed to be coming out
>soon. Also, how about Spookey Rubin?
   Some lucky fans (not me) already have heard the Falkner demos and
seem to really like it.  After going through many working titles, the
current one is "Can You Still Feel?"  He does have a single out on
Lovitt records.
  As for Spookey, I'd also like to know what's going on with him. His
first album was so cool, but when's he gonna put out a new one? C'mon,
TVT, get that man back in the studio!
>Have any of you tried the Wondermints? They're >minty-fresh and lots of
>fun in a Jellyfish/Beachboys/Queen kind of way.
   I've only heard one Wondermints song, which is a cover of Mancici's
"The Party".  It is, I dare say, better than the original movie theme.
 It's very Austin Powers-ish. I never seem to see their stuff at my
local record stores.  Whenever I do, though, I'm gonna check it out.
   Good news, Chalkchildren!  I work in a public library and my
assignment for the coming year is to order the music CDs and
cassettes.  Fun, no? Yes! The guy whose been doing it for the past
decade knows little about non-classical music, so I've got lots of
work to do to bring the collection into the modern age. You know who's
first on my ordering list, of course (that is if Apple Venus arrives
on time)!



Message-ID: <>
Date: Fri, 11 Dec 1998 19:20:26 EST
Subject: Transitor Blast revisited

Just purchased Transistor Blast @ Newbury Comics in Boston for $39.99.

Here's my 2 cents worth:

Those of you who dislike The White Album and Go 2 should check out disc 3,
the live versions. This kicks ass. Barry Andrews keyboards are
great. Although I rate the two albums as my least favorite, I now have a
better appreciation of that music

Disc 4 Is redundent because I already own Live at the BBC

The Peel Sessions are good, some different twists to our favorites.

I was hesitant about paying $40 for this but then I remembered I haven't
paid for any new XTC music in 6 years

Friday's Boston Globe had a front page article on XTc in the Arts and Film
section.  Very favorable review.
Check out go to Living/Arts

Maybe 1999 will be a great XTC year


Date: Fri, 11 Dec 1998 19:44:49 -0500
From: Steve Pitts <>
Subject: Transistor Blast Booklet
Message-ID: <>


> From: Cooking Vinyl <> <

Pretty much the horse's mouth, I guess :)

> you've been ripped off!  There's an excellent booklet <

<sigh> Doncha just love incompetent sales assistants?? I guess this means
another trip to Watford to fight with all those Christmas shoppers again
<long sigh> Oh well, it'll be worth it to have the booklet to read on
Christmas Day

Also, Yukio wrote:

> I think the best album of all time is "Chairs Missing" by Wire <

Right up there in my pantheon too, although depending on time of the month
I might rate 'Pink Flag' more highly (but then I tend to have a thing for
first albums). Oddly enough the only CD in my (alphabetically organised,
anal retentive that I am) collection between Wire and XTC is X-Ray Spex'
'Germ Free Adolescents', which would also be in my top ten faves

Dom shrieked:

> get out! Run like the wind! ...And don't go back! Twenty one years I
spent in that dump <

<LOL> Well I've been in the area for the past thirteen years, and I have no
desire to run away just yet. Having said that I actually live in Kings
Langley, not in Hemel (the sig is primarily for consumption on Compuserve,
where the majority who read it are in the US, and Kings Langley isn't
likely to feature on any atlases - although, thinking about it, nor is
Hemel I guess <G>)

Huw Davies plagiarised:

> The truth is it's very hard to mix pop and politics without it sounding
embarrassing <

and there you go, lifting the Bragg-man's lines <g> ("Mixing pop and
politics he asks me what the use is, I offer him embarrassment and my usual

> Billy Bragg is a good example <

Isn't he just

Cheers, Steve

(Using OzWIN in Hemel Hempstead, England on 11-Dec-98 at 23:02:12)


From: "Wesley Hanks" <>
Subject: ...but Boston loves TB!
Date: Fri, 11 Dec 1998 19:40:01 -0800
Message-ID: <000001be2581$196968e0$a41c1d26@wes>


The Boston Globe, December 11, 1998

Copyright 1998 Globe Newspaper Company
The Boston Globe

December 11, 1998, Friday ,City Edition


LENGTH: 667 words

HEADLINE: XTC hits with an edge;
British innovators' genius shows in the box;

BYLINE: By Jim Sullivan, Globe Staff


   More than 20 years ago, before there were raves and designer drugs, there
was this English pop band, XTC. Speaking with the Globe six years ago,
singer-guitarist Andy Partridge explained the genesis of the moniker and how
he came to loathe it.

"I picked the name because I thought it was a pictogram for the group in
1975. It was short, sharp, shocking. It was immediate gratification and
wonderfulness. The letters were the right shape. It leapt out in print."
Alas, Partridge soon came to believe "we were stuck with one of those
classic 'punny' names that are great fun for a week and then you think, 'Why
did we choose that name?' You sober up and go 'Oh no! We're called that?' "

Ah, but Partridge and his sole remaining XTC mate, singer-bassist Colin
Moulding, can rest easy. XTC, which has just released a 52-track, four-CD
box set called "Transistor Blast" (TVT, $44.99), has weathered the storms of
time well. They are one of the hip influences to cite in the modern rock
world (see: Baby Ray) and there is an added air of mystery about them
because . . . well, they essentially pulled the plug on themselves as a live
band in 1982 following Partridge's nervous breakdown, sparked by his stage
fright. (They did play acoustic radio gigs in 1989 - some of those tracks
surface here.)

There is nothing like a disappearing act to foster a myth. Consider this,
too: They went on what you might call a strike in 1992, following their last
studio disc, "Nonsuch." Throughout the decade, they'd attempted to extricate
themselves from what they saw as a draconian contract with Virgin. (They're
out of it - finally; XTC releases an album of new material early next year,
"Apple Venus" on TVT.)

The early XTC had a string of hits in England and made a couple of dents in
new wave America with "Life Begins at the Hop" and "Making Plans for Nigel."
Now, the term "new wave" is most often spoken with disdain. People think of
silly costumes, garish videos, and diluted punk rock. The best of new wave,
however, took punk's energy and lashed to it an inventive spirit -
melodically, rhythmically, harmonically - that gave the music a complex
resonance that went beyond punk's heavy hammer. This is where XTC lived
during its 1977-1982 heyday, and it's where they live again on "Transistor
Blast," culled from concerts and BBC radio sessions over the years. (XTC
made 15 albums and some very strong work exists post-'82, especially the
"English Settlement" album.)

Though recorded live, these "Transistor" takes are crisp, uncluttered,
almost pristine - without being antiseptic. The discs are not peppered with
pointless call-and-response queries from the band or riddled with
gone-bonkers applause from the crowd. It's all very well mannered. Writes
Partridge in the booklet that accompanies the CD package, of the first BBC
concert disc: "The audience, being allowed to eavesdrop by a stern but
kindly auntie, never seemed to be given permission to 'get into it.' "

XTC took naturally its oddball status. The band was too pop for punk, too
quirky for power pop; too giddy for post-punk, too sly for the New Romantic

As such, none of what XTC, which then included guitarist Dave Gregory and
keyboardist Barry Andrews, has recorded here sounds dated or quaint or, God
forbid, stereotypically new wavey. XTC has always gone for the baroque, the
detailed, in as much as did the Beatles 'round about "Rubber Soul" and "Sgt.
Pepper." XTC plied this trade before any psychedelic revival took hold. Add
to this off-kilter framework a certain wry, arch, very English sensibility
not unlike the Kinks' Ray Davies. The result is a slew of multiply hooked,
clever pop-rock songs made by guys who knew enough about the rule book to
toss it away when called for.

Partridge has likened that early period to XTC being sorcerer's apprentices,
lucky enough to work in an alchemist's kitchen. On the other end of that,
we're lucky to have these artifacts. No dust on 'em at all.

Bean-o not included,


Message-ID: <>
From: Don Rogalski <>
Subject: Coffee-Table Classic
Date: Sat, 12 Dec 1998 16:19:49 +0800

Chalkhills people:

>From: Jim Slade <>

> Skylarking is XTC for audiophiles who tired of keeping
>up with the permutations of Yes (maybe this will get us off the you-
>know-who thread and onto other prog-rock stuff that's not relevant).

"Prog-rock" and XTC mentioned in the same sentence?  Ouch!  Skylarking
a "coffee-table classic"?  One of the most engaging pop albums ever made,
bar none, relegated to the realm of those "Barns of New England" picture
books that you only ever look at when you're unlucky enough to be sitting
in the living room of your older aunt, the one who always remembered to send
you birthday cards right into your twenties?

You _do_, however, draw an interesting picture, that of the Yes fan
who gave up and discovered XTC.  I would venture that die-hard
Yes fans would refuse to say No to Yes... and yes, it would follow
that they would no more guess that Yes would bless them digress to
XTC-ness, than that they would know to go below the throes
of technical blow...

and hear a tunefully melodic pop song show.

You know?

> XTC with Terry Chambers made analog, vinyl records that jumped
>off the turntable and occupied their own special space.


> Every record that followed Mummer (yes, I like Mummer a
>lot) - excluding the excellent Dukes stuff - came with the current
>midi-from-the-box sound of the week.


> I'm not saying that XTC hasn't come up with a number of good-to-great
>songs since Mummer, but they're no longer a rock 'n roll band.


> Sorry, I like the art that develops naturally out of rock 'n roll and soul
>music better than studied excursions in post-Art Pop

Well... one could argue that pre-Mummer XTC was good and interesting
precisely because they weren't succumbing to the "natural" rock'n'roll
schtick.  I'd venture that the best music happens when one or two writers
in a band create stuff that goes beyond the typical blues-based guff that the
bass-drums-guitar setup lends itself so easily to, and then, when trying it
out with the band, find that the original muse of the solitary is expanded
to something beyond.  Which takes like-minded musicians of talent and
vision.  Which is what XTC, as a full group, were.

>Am I calling for stunted artistic growth and all that?  In a sense, yes.

I see where you're coming from, although I'd redirect the criticism
of "stunted artistic growth" to one of, perhaps, AP banging his head
against the wrong musical paradigm.  He's doing the composer
thing, in which one person sits alone in a room for a very long
time and jots down notes that many musicians will play (although
these days the many musicians are often replaced by the wonders
of MIDI).

But the beauty of the pop group concept is that
there is always an element of improvisation there - there's
no conductor per se.  The best pop, rock, or what have you,
was alive and exciting because in spite of the very standard
patterns that each instrument falls into, there are still a million
variations that one could use with each turn of verse or
chorus.   As any XTC fan is aware, most of the dreck out
there is made by musicians unwilling to beyond the most
basic variations.  Hence, dullness.

And even if the song-writer had a certain drum fill
in mind here, or bass-line there, room would still have to be
left to the vagaries of the discretion of the players actually
doing the playing, or it would turn into a dictatorship.

This happens all the time, of course.  These music groups
are called symphony orchestras.

You know what I think?  AP should give up the pop thing,
or at least do something that stretches the boundaries of it.
He should compose for a symphony orchestra.

It might be more fitting.




Message-ID: <>
Date: Sat, 12 Dec 1998 14:41:28 -0500
From: xychq <>


Uncle Xychq


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